May 22, 2019

ISS crew officially welcomes SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

08 March 2019, 10:56 | Edward Lowe

ISS crew officially welcomes SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

ISS crew officially welcomes SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

SpaceX's 16-foot-tall (4.9 meter) Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. (0749 GMT), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley.

Nasa experts announced "hard capture complete" in a live webcast of the docking, with applause and cheers audible from the control room.

The launch was the first that involved a privately built and operated craft heading to the station and was the inaugural test of the SpaceX craft. Meanwhile, Boeing, our other partner developing spacecraft to launch American astronauts from American soil, is targeting the launch of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft's uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, for no earlier than April.

Crew Dragon will remain at the space station for a few days before undocking and splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean early Friday morning, where a recovery ship will be nearby to pick it up.

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There they found the dummy, Ripley, strapped to a seat, and an untethered plush toy in the form of the blue planet, which SpaceX had jokingly placed there as a "super high-tech zero-g indicator". If everything goes according to plan, SpaceX should be able to fly two NASA astronauts to space later in the summer.

We are preparing to once more Launch American astronauts from American land on American rockets, said NASA chief Jim Bridenstine.

The version of Crew Dragon now docked at the ISS is a variant of SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo capsule that's been flying resupply missions to the ISS since 2012.

The three U.S., Canadian and Russian crew members aboard the space station watched the rendezvous via TV cameras.

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As part of the March 3 shakedown, the space station astronauts sent commands for Dragon to retreat and then move forward again, before the capsule closed in for good.

"Our focus has been on serving Nasa's needs, but once Dragon is in regular operation, I think we will seek commercial customers of which NASA administrator, and NASA in general, has been very supportive". "What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight".

The objective is to make the next demo flight, with Hurley and Behnken, as safe as possible.

Despite SpaceX's success at recovering and reusing its rockets, NASA is insisting on brand new boosters from SpaceX for the crew capsule flights.

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule launch from NASA pad 39A as seen in a time exposure from Viera, FL. on March.

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